8 Ways to Cash In on Gift Cards You Don’t Want

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We’ve all received gift cards we’ll never use for holiday gift exchanges, birthdays and other celebrations.

Maybe your brother gave you a gift card to a restaurant way across town. Or your crafts-loving mom gave you a craft store gift card but you didn’t inherit the crafty gene.

Whatever the case, if you have a drawer full — or even a handful — of unused or partially used gift cards, you may be able to cash in on those cards through a variety of options.

From cash back to airline miles, you’ll find plenty of options for getting value from unused gift cards.

Here are eight ways to cash in on gift cards you don’t want.

1. Sell gift cards at Raise

Woman using credit card to do Black Friday shopping online on laptop
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It’s easy to sell unwanted gift cards online at Raise.com, which will sell your gift cards, including those with only a partial balance, to people who actually want them and pay you the remainder after fees and discounts.

Use the site’s brand lookup tool to find out whether Raise accepts the brands for the gift cards you want to offload and whether certain brands impose limitations. Then input the brand name and amount remaining on the gift card, and Raise lets you know how much cash you’ll receive after fees and discounts.

For example, if you have a Gap gift card with a $50 balance to sell, you’d receive back around $35 after fees and discounts. When the card sells, Raise pays you via direct deposit to your bank account or PayPal.

2. Get an instant offer at GiftCash

Woman excited about her credit card rewards and using a laptop to book travel
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You’ll get an instant offer for your gift cards at GiftCash.com, which offers a high payout — sometimes as much as 90% of the card’s value, although it fluctuates — for many retailers. For example, if you sell a $100 Ikea gift card to GiftCash, you’ll receive a payout of $88 as of this writing. Not bad for that gift card that was only gathering dust.

GiftCash accepts gift cards with a minimum $25 value all the way to a maximum of $2,000 — with the exception of cards from Air Canada, Apple iTunes and Petco, which require a minimum $100 balance.

3. Walk into a Check Into Cash store

Check Into Cash store sign
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If you need cash right away, Check Into Cash stores in many states buy gift cards from more than 500 retailers and restaurants, including Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, GameStop and Starbucks.

Just bring your gift cards to one of more than 300 Check Into Cash’s stores located in 19 states, show your I.D. and leave with cash to spend on whatever you like.

You won’t receive the full value of the card — Check Into Cash pays only half of the card’s value — but if you need cash fast, you’ll leave with more money than you had when you walked through the door.

4. Use the Currency Exchange Association of Illinois

Happy man holding money
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If you live in Illinois and want cash fast, you can sell gift cards for half of their value at Currency Exchange check cashing stores. Search the website’s store locator tool for the nearest store and then bring your gift cards and an I.D. to the store to leave with cash in hand.

5. Trade for airline miles

airline passenger
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If you’re a member of United Airlines’ MileagePlus program, you may be able to trade your gift cards in for airline miles. The MileagePlus gift card exchange allows members to trade in gift cards from more than 100 retailers.

With few exceptions, you’ll receive the full value of the remaining balance on each card in United Airlines award miles. For example, exchange a $25 gift card and receive 670 in airline miles. You’ll receive 1,330 miles for a $50 gift card or 2,660 award miles for a $100 card.

You can even trade in gift cards for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines if you prefer to fly the friendly skies of United instead.

6. Put the word out at work

Generation Z at work
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If you want to sell your gift cards fast, announce at work that you’re selling gift cards at a discount. Chances are, no one wants to buy your gift cards a face value, but most people love a bargain — especially during the holiday season.

Determine a discounted price that works for you and post a flyer in the workplace break room or on an employee forum (if allowed) in addition to telling your coworkers face-to-face. People who snatch up your $50 gift cards for $25 or $30 will be happy — and you’ll walk away with cold, hard cash in hand.

7. Regift

Son giving a Father's Day gift to his dad
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If gift cards haven’t expired, repurpose them as gifts for holiday, birthday, graduation and other celebrations. The recipient will be none the wiser, and you’ll save money by not having to buy gifts.

8. Cash in on good karma

senior woman making donation on computer
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Why not donate those gift cards to nonprofits or other worthy organizations that can use them to buy supplies and services? For example, you can donate unwanted gift cards to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at stjude.cardcash.com, which accepts gift cards from more than 200 merchants and provides a receipt for tax purposes.

In your own community, you might be able to donate gift cards to homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, pet rescues or any other organizations with missions you support.

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